By Staff

I was down on the docks
Just spending my time,
Out of a job and not
Making a dime,

When up steps a man, and
He says, ‘I suppose
You’re an engineer,
By the looks of your clothes.’

Well, he guesses me right
Or I’m a son of a gun.
‘Do you happen to have any
Tough ones to run?’

He says he has one that’s
A tough one to start
And she won’t turn over
‘Til you take her apart.

He says his old engine
Hasn’t ever run right
He’s cranked her all day,
And he’s cranked her all night.

I got all excited and
Ask what he pays
To fix his old donkey
For the rest of her days.

He offers ten dollars and
I says, ‘I’m your man.
If anyone can start her,
I know that I can.’

The engine ain’t made,
No matter how dead,
That I cannot run ’til
She jumps off her bed.

He says, ‘Get your wrenches,
I’ll give you a chance.’.
I picked up my toolbox and
Hitched up my pants.

We got in his dory and
Skulled off to his boat
And I didn’t wonder that
Mill got his goat.

I looked down in the bilges
And there she lay;
A lousy old, rusty old
Six-Ninety Gray

She had Delco ignition
And Champion plugs
And was wet from her base
To her cylinder lugs.

I grabbed for the needle
And gave it a twist,
‘Rolled up my shirtsleeves
 And spit on my fists.

I rolled her over and, well
I knew then
That before she was started
I’d sure earn my ten.

She was all out of time
And her wires were shot
Her points didn’t break
And her bearings were hot.

Her compression was poor
And her gaskets were punk
You could tell at a glance
That she was nothing but junk.

I pulled out the choke
And retarded the spark
And gave her a flip
Just to see if she’d bark.

She blew out a plug and
Went backwards instead,
And I busted a carlin’
With the top of my head.

I took off the hand-hold
And looked at her crank,
Got hold of her throttle
And gave it a yank.

Checked up the valves
And tested the coil,
Then took off the timer
And soaked it with oil.

I cranked ’til my boot-tops
Ran over with sweat
And not one explosion
From her could I get.

I took out the condenser
And filed up the points
And cranked ’til my elbows
Flew out of their joints.

I primed her with ether
And called her a name.
She was dead as a mackerel
And I was the same.

I tested the bat’ry
And fiddled the switch,
And then I decided
The gas was too rich.

I swore ’til the paint
In the cabin turned green.
A tougher old junk pile
I never had seen.

I says, ‘I’ll be darned
If I know what to do.’
And the captain says,
‘Here, have a glass of home brew.’

That liquer was potent
And fragrant and hot.
I says, ‘That’s the answer!
How much have you got?’

He hands me a jug
With a quart and a half.
I took out her plugs
And gave her a draught.

I poured what was left
In the gasoline tank,
Grabbed hold of the starter
and gave it a yank.

She made one explosion,
And that one was stout.
Her flywheel came off
And her pistons flew out.

The base and exhaust pipe
Went up through the deck.
The spark plugs and wires
Were wrapped ’round my neck.

I was laid up in bed
For seventeen days,
And you can’t hire me, boys,
To start no more Grays.

This old rhyme came from Charles D. Theobald, Route 1, Box 158,
Rock Hall, MD 21661.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines